“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOU ARE SO LUCKY TONIGHT!”
Usually, when the host of Saturday Night Live brings out the musical guest, it’s simple: A “Ladies and gentlemen, [musical guest]!” and a gesture from Vanna White’s playbook make for the uniform greeting before the song begins. When the notoriously elusive and aloof Prince made his return to SNL this weekend for the first time since 2006, Chris Rock couldn’t contain himself, and though the comedian tends to speak in all caps anyway, his excitement was totally appropriate. PRINCE PLAYING SNL IS A BIG, BIG DEAL. And yes: the audience was lucky.
Instead of sticking to the regular two-song routine cut up with sketches, Prince came to SNL and played an eight-minute set of entirely new material off September’s PLECTRUMELECTRUM, his first record with new backing band 3RDEYEGIRL. (Who’d expect the Purple One to stick to a typical format? Who’d ask him to?) “Clouds” served as the first single to introduce fans to the new Prince when it dropped earlier this fall, and its live showing with Lianne La Havas beautifully eased us into a set that turned expectations away at the door. “Never underestimate the power of a kiss on the neck when she doesn’t expect it” and a massaging groove? Are you trying to talk us into bed, Prince? Because if so: totally worked. And we should’ve expected that.
As for “Marz” and “Anotherlove,” every single facet of a Prince performance was there and ripe for the picking, with ripping solos and gnarly guitar work hitting the late-night broadcast with more gusto than it’s seen in years. Guitar-gasm faces were plentiful, and Prince’s effortless cool hasn’t tarnished in the slightest (it leaves one to no longer question where the Fountain of Youth is, as apparently it resides in Paisley Park). 3RDEYEGIRL SLAYED, and Prince stepping aside to push guitarist Donna Grantis into the spotlight with a classic face-melter of a solo was thrilling, if only because it’s great to see the guy loving the company he keeps.
After the grotesque display Iggy Azalea brought to the stage last week, the audience needed its faith restored in the hope that somehow, some way, a musical performance could happen on SNL without spurring the wrath of the internet and mean jokes for days. To follow up that disastrous bit with a glimmer of genius from Prince was to right the wrong and remind people that yes, Prince not only still has it, but he’s on top of his game on his own terms and at a point where he can do things like sport three-lens spectacles while blowing through a funk riff without a second thought.
And thankfully, people came out in full force to voice their adoration for Minneapolis’s reigning rock god even more adamantly than they had to groan over Iggy Azalea.
Couldn’t place it until now but YES.
Prince is 56 and still looks like Bambi.
— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) November 2, 2014
Patton Oswalt was impressed.
You THINK you’re a to-the-core fan of Prince & then he does something where you realize you need to step up your game. #PrinceOnSNL
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) November 2, 2014
So was Ryan Adams.
Prince just broke music again. Thank You I Love You @PrinceTweets2U
— Ryan Adams (@TheRyanAdams) November 2, 2014
So was Arsenio Hall. (We think? He could’ve been paralyzed from abject terror, but either way, we see it.)
PRINCE had me sitting motionless. #SNL
— Arsenio Hall (@ArsenioHall) November 2, 2014
Make “Prince-y” a thing.
Prince’s SNL performance is the Princiest.
— Katie Carroll (@kredcarroll) November 2, 2014
I have only watched a few minutes of Prince’s set and I’m now 5 weeks pregnant. #SNL
— Mike Zakarian (@MikeZakarian) November 2, 2014
Seriously, some Minneapolis sales associate is VERY UPSET over the level of restocking he/she’ll have to do.
Prince slayed but Guitar Center is out of effects pedals because his guitarist bought all of them pic.twitter.com/7nY4csPIIP
— Jason Narducy (@SplitSingleband) November 2, 2014
Don’t even know what this means but yes.
I bet Prince gives out the big candy bars on Halloween. Prince ain’t got no time for Fun Size.
— Scott Van Pelt (@notthefakeSVP) November 2, 2014
Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL didn’t stick around for the typical wave-off during the rolling credits, but they probably had some ridiculous secret show to get to.
Prince doesn’t do goodnights. You just wake up in the morning and he’s gone.
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) November 2, 2014
Prince was not onstage saying goodbye because he has turned back into a star and is sailing across the sky. #SNL
— Anne T. Donahue (@annetdonahue) November 2, 2014
And, finally, modesty is simply a waste of time when you’ve got trends to set and paradigms to shift.
— 3RDEYEGIRL (@3RDEYEGIRL) November 2, 2014
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